Kickstarter Month Post #1: April Huneycutt

april_210.large I’ve spoken to a lot of writers about Kickstarter lately. Some had advice. Many had questions. One of my colleagues — a client who has me do some research and structural coaching for her — recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for her memoir.

To really get the rest of today’s post, you need to follow this link and view the campaign. It has some good and some not-so-good that will help for you to understand. Plus, it’s a pretty cool campaign all things considered.

The Big Picture

April spent most of her late teens and twenties as a stripper, with some entrepreneurial ventures including large music festivals, real estate speculation and being a madame. Lots of strippers, hookers and madames have written memoirs, and the world probably doesn’t need another of them, but this one is different.

Other such memoirs are about stripping. This one is about using stripping to fund small business ventures. April grossed over 2 million dollars during her 20s, and applied that income to her next project. The book tells that story.

The Good

If you take a close look at the campaign, you’ll see several strong aspects:

  • High production value. The videos are professionally shot, the photo is high quality and a professional writer produced the copy.
  • Targeted backer rewards. April clearly understands who her best clients are, and has created several rewards that serve that particular demographic. She’s also made the book collectible to create additional backer levels, and made one reward that specifically serves her current career as a spokesmodel.
  • Complete project. My own Kickstarter campaign has gotten some negative attention because I’m seeking funding to let me complete the project with high quality. Aprils is a complete concept, just waiting for funding to create a print run and pay for the other expenses of publishing.

The Bad

April’s campaign is solid, and I think you should fund it, but like all things it has room for improvement.

  • Needs more outreach. The page isn’t updated as frequently as it should be, and hasn’t been shopped to the reviewers and communities that can really make it succeed.
  • Slightly off target. The book has lots of sex scenes and sordid details, but what makes it unique is April’s story of becoming an entrepreneur and avoiding the victim state that is part of existence for many sex workers. However, most of the ad copy stresses the sexy stuff. As I mentioned in a May posting, this could create disgruntled customers by leading them to expect something different from what they are getting.

The Ugly

My analysis gives this campaign about a 65% chance of funding outright, up to 75% if April gets really busy during the final weeks of the run. Part of my job as her coach will be to help her increase those odds.

As writers, this gives us some food for thought. 

Kickstarter is a way to manufacture your own advance to write a book, without all the gatekeeping and hearing “no” associated with a traditional publishing deal. However — like so many alternative publishing models — it puts the responsibility directly on the author’s plate.

April’s book will succeed or fail largely on its own merits, April’s ability to market and promote her idea, and April’s skill at executing that ability. If she succeeds, she’ll have a $15,000 advance for her book. If she fails, she’s spent time and money to not get funded.

If you’re thinking about Kickstarter as a way to fund your own writing, you will need to learn the skills associated with marketing a crowdfunding campaign. That’s on top of the writing, rewriting, plotting, characterizing, spelling, grammar, schmoozing, submitting, querying and banging-your-head-against-your-desk-because-you-don’t-want-to-break-your-monitor skills you already have or need to develop.

Scary?

Sure. But what really worth doing isn’t a little bit terrifying?

For the next four weeks or so, I’ll be posting a series on Kickstarter for authors. Stay tuned for reviews, advice, information and status reports for both April’s project and mine. Meanwhle, comment below with any questions you might have. I’ll do my best to come up with some great answers.

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